The gay rights movement just scored a huge victory: Same-sex marriage will soon be legal in New York state. The state Senate approved the measure tonight after a Republican legislator came forward to support it as the crucial 32nd vote. “I know my vote is a vote of conscience,” Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie told fellow lawmakers. “I am at peace with my vote. It was a struggle. It was an extraordinary deliberation.” Gay couples in the Senate gallery wept as he spoke, notes AP. The final tally ended up 33-29, with four Republicans in favor.
The state Assembly already has passed the legislation, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign it. Weddings could begin a month after that, just in time for mid-summer nuptials. New York is the sixth state to legalize gay marriage and easily the biggest, notes the New York Times, which expects the vote to provide momentum to the national movement. The others are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, along with the District of Columbia.